News, Culture & Society

Caring for ‘chosen family’ gains ground in sick-leave laws

NEW YORK (AP) – They are friends so close they’ll come through like family when someone is ill. And these “chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time.

In the last two years, Arizona, Rhode Island and the three biggest U.S. cities – New York, Los Angeles and Chicago – have passed laws that let workers use those sick days to care for anyone who’s like family to them.

Similar laws also passed in Austin, Texas, last month and St. Paul, Minnesota, in 2016. Millions of federal employees and contractors also have the benefit.

In this March 2, 2018 photo, Yee Won Chong, far right, poses with his “chosen family” in their home in Portland, Ore. When Chong was diagnosed with cancer, Chong’s longtime housemate Brooks Nelson, middle left, used his own sick days to take time off to care for Chong during chemotherapy and surgery. Also pictured are Nelson’s partner, Jeannie LaFrance, top left; her daughter, Avalon LaFrance, 5; and the family dog, Fred. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

Advocates say the laws reflect the varied relationships that matter to people.

But some business interests say the laws put bosses in the awkward position of discerning who’s the “equivalent” of family.

In this March 2, 2018 photo, Yee Won Chong and Avalon LaFrance, 5, play with a balloon in the home where Chong rents a room from Avalon's mother and her partner, Brooks Nelson, in Portland, Ore. When Chong was diagnosed with cancer and his relatives were half a world away in Malaysia, he turned to the friends he considers his "chosen family." Nelson, a Portland, Ore., charity executive used his own sick days to accompany Chong to doctor's appointments. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

In this March 2, 2018 photo, Yee Won Chong and Avalon LaFrance, 5, play with a balloon in the home where Chong rents a room from Avalon’s mother and her partner, Brooks Nelson, in Portland, Ore. When Chong was diagnosed with cancer and his relatives were half a world away in Malaysia, he turned to the friends he considers his “chosen family.” Nelson, a Portland, Ore., charity executive used his own sick days to accompany Chong to doctor’s appointments. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

In this March 2, 2018 photo, Yee Won Chong and Avalon LaFrance, 5, watch Brooks Nelson slice strawberries for a fruit salad in the kitchen of Nelson's home in Portland, Ore. Chong rents a room from Nelson and his partner, Jeannie LaFrance. When Chong was diagnosed with cancer, Nelson used his own sick days as Chong's "chosen family" to take time off to accompany Chong to doctor's appointments. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

In this March 2, 2018 photo, Yee Won Chong and Avalon LaFrance, 5, watch Brooks Nelson slice strawberries for a fruit salad in the kitchen of Nelson’s home in Portland, Ore. Chong rents a room from Nelson and his partner, Jeannie LaFrance. When Chong was diagnosed with cancer, Nelson used his own sick days as Chong’s “chosen family” to take time off to accompany Chong to doctor’s appointments. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

This November 2016 photo provided by Brooks Nelson shows Nelson, right, and his friend and renter, Yee Won Chong, left, pose for a photo as Chong prepared for surgery at Providence Portland Medical Center in Portland, Ore., to remove cancerous tissue. When Chong was diagnosed with cancer, Nelson used his own sick days as Chong's "chosen family" to take time off to care for Chong during chemotherapy and surgery. (Brooks Nelson via AP)

This November 2016 photo provided by Brooks Nelson shows Nelson, right, and his friend and renter, Yee Won Chong, left, pose for a photo as Chong prepared for surgery at Providence Portland Medical Center in Portland, Ore., to remove cancerous tissue. When Chong was diagnosed with cancer, Nelson used his own sick days as Chong’s “chosen family” to take time off to care for Chong during chemotherapy and surgery. (Brooks Nelson via AP)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo, second from left, and his husband, Jamie, laugh with their 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. Friend and housemate, Christoph Malvaney, who suffers from stroke and other ailments, listens at far right. "Chosen families" have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo, second from left, and his husband, Jamie, laugh with their 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. Friend and housemate, Christoph Malvaney, who suffers from stroke and other ailments, listens at far right. “Chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Barny Lanman caresses cat Miss Julie as friend and housemate, Christoph Malvaney, who suffers from stroke and other ailments, watches from the couch at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. "Chosen families" have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Barny Lanman caresses cat Miss Julie as friend and housemate, Christoph Malvaney, who suffers from stroke and other ailments, watches from the couch at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. “Chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo, left rear, watches as his 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, puts her coat on at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. "Chosen families" have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo, left rear, watches as his 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, puts her coat on at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. “Chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Barny Lanman, middle, chats with housemate, Peter Marquis, right, as friend and housemate, Christoph Malvaney, who suffers from stroke and other ailments, watches at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. "Chosen families" have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Barny Lanman, middle, chats with housemate, Peter Marquis, right, as friend and housemate, Christoph Malvaney, who suffers from stroke and other ailments, watches at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. “Chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo helps his 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, leave their home in Fitchburg, Mass. "Chosen families" have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo helps his 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, leave their home in Fitchburg, Mass. “Chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo holds the car door open for his 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, outside their home in Fitchburg, Mass. "Chosen families" have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo holds the car door open for his 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, outside their home in Fitchburg, Mass. “Chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo, middle, and his husband, Jamie, far right, laugh with their 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. "Chosen families" have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

In this March 5, 2018 photo, Wil Darcangelo, middle, and his husband, Jamie, far right, laugh with their 22-year-old adopted daughter, Lavender, who is blind and autistic, at their home in Fitchburg, Mass. “Chosen families” have quietly been gaining political recognition in some laws that require paid sick time for millions of private-sector employees to take care of themselves or family members. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

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